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THE PLAID HORSE PUBLISHED SINCE 2003
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief:
PIPER KLEMM, Ph.D. Art Director:
LISA DALY Online Editor:
LAUREN MAULDIN, MFA Advertising:
NANCY HALVEY LIZ D. HANCOX ANN JAMIESON DAWN KIRLIN Contributing Writer:
CATIE STACZAK Subscriptions Manager:
CIRA PACE MALTA Online Manager:
LINDSEY RAINS Project Coordinator:
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CONTACT THE PLAID HORSE WEB:
Piper Klemm, Ph.D., 14 Mechanic St, Canton, New York 13617
PINTEREST: pinterest.com/theplaidhorse ISSUU: issuu.com/theplaidhorsemag SUBSCRIPTIONS: email@example.com PHOTO © STEPHANIE RAY PETERS, ART © MADELEINE MURRAY.
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Don’t Let the Internet Rush You, Nobody is Posting Their Failures.
ON THE COVER: STEPHANIE RAY PETERS OF BEND, OREGON. PHOTO © MEGAN STRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY. PHOTO COLLAGE ABOVE: PETERS WAS FEATURED IN THE PLAID HORSE'S 2015 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER ISSUE (PHOTOS BY BETHANY UNWIN PHOTOGRAPHY).
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PUBLISHER’S NOTE: MEANINGFUL CHANGE
Piper Klemm, Ph.D.
It’s not about what we did before, it’s the change we’re being now. We can’t change the past.
KRAFT HORSE WALKERS MAKE THE WORLD GO ROUND
The pandemic might be the perfect time to build what you’ve always dreamed of.
HORSES HAVE TRAINERS, INVESTMENTS HAVE FINANCIAL PLANNERS
Lauren Mauldin, MFA
Are you really honestly preparing for retirement? What does that mean?
ATTWOOD EQUESTRIAN SURFACES
The horse is their client… Doesn’t that say it all?
ALLYSON COLUCCIO’S HIDDEN RIDGE INTERNATIONAL, INC.
What do the first million dollar hunter and the first fake tail on a pony have in common?
REAL ESTATE FEATURE
What do you wish you knew when you bought your farm?
AMERICAN BRED FEATURE
Meet Bradley: The Homebred Colt Who Inspired a Breeding Operation
TPH GUIDE: GRAZING MUZZLES
IS YOUR HORSE A HEALTHY WEIGHT?
Dr. Heather Beach, DVM
What do body condition scores mean anyway?
COVER STORY: LEAVING SHAME BEHIND
Stephanie Ray Peters
A grand welcome to everyone in this sport - coming up, coming back, and any struggle you have - the horses take you how you are, your people can too, and we can all love our bodies for what they do for us.
KIND MEDIA: A NEW KIND OF PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS
The force that is the duo Vicci Valenti and Annie Patterson return with their own media company. PHOTO COURTESY STEPHANIE RAY PETERS.
108. PRITCHARD HILL Rennie Dyball
A special horse, a world-class wine, and a unique friendship.
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Piper Klemm with husband Adam Hill still quarantined, so this photo will have to suffice.
When we start to talk about the state of the world, it’s easy to feel guilt. Guilt over what we have spent on horses (no matter how hard we worked for that money). Guilt over not taking opportunities. Guilt over all the things that haven’t pushed us down. Tragedy that didn’t happen. In my first few years at the helm of The Plaid Horse, I tried to right as much as I could. I tried to help everyone. All the time. But I lacked the vision, selfcare, and team to actually impact real change. I was out there learning and trying. Through that, I focused what I wanted to change in the world. More opportunities for education— for everyone, in every form. More opportunities for women in leadership positions. And to help people developing the coping mechanisms to channel their lives to be kind, and also accepting of criticism and improvement. When it comes to diversity in sport, The Plaid Horse has posted here and there, but we haven’t done enough. It has not been one of my major initiatives. It has not sprung me out of bed every morning, demanding action. I’m committed to changing that. I’m angry. I’m angry that people have been systemically denied of opportunity and of education. I’m angry at myself that I didn’t make this plan five years ago. But, I must remind myself, it’s not about what we did before. It’s the change we’re making now. We can’t change the past, but we can make the future better. We can all be better. I’m starting today.
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“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” ~ Chinese proverb Basically, in the context of the conversation here today, this means that if you want success and growth in the future, the best time to act is now.
BY TPH PUBLISHER PIPER KLEMM, PHD
(FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM AT @PIPERKLEMM)
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Frank Kraft with Patrick & Carolyn Adams, owners of Yarra Yarra Ranch in California. They bought a ceiling mounted horse walkers in 2009 and Frank has been a good friend to them since then. He stops by whenever he is in the neighborhood.
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For conformation, beauty, temperament and longevity. Still sound and healthy at 27. FOR SALE
Luminous, owned by Kristina Novak 3rd place SBW West Coast Highest placed Oldenburg
www.oldeoaksfarm.com firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Shine on Facebook
Infinite Shine 2016 gelding out of Sashay/Aristos B Both parents International Derby Winners Just started.
P.O. Box 97 Thompsons, Tx 77481 713-806-7108
Come see our selection of Shine offspring and grandchildren Also young horses by Montaro OHF, Jus d’O, Ragtime, Carry On MF, Bliss MF & others
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Horses Have Trainers,
Investments Have Above all else, equestrians are good at putting our horses first. How many times have you heard someone at the barn say how they’re eating ramen noodles so that they can afford special shoeing, a horse show, or veterinary care? Many of us are good at managing discretionary spending when it comes to the benefit of our animals. But what about us? It can be harder to provide that same level of financial support and security for ourselves. While horses teach us to live in the present, we also need to learn how to plan for the distant future. For that we turn to Walt Mancing, Senior Vice President/Investments for Stifel | Mancing Wealth Management Group. With over 15 years of experience providing guidance to equestrians, Walt and his team know the delicate balance of saving and investing in an unpredictable, high-overhead industry.
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Educated at the Wharton School of Business with a B.S. in Economics, Walt then went on to the University of Notre Dame to start his professional career as a lawyer. He practiced corporate litigation in Los Angeles, California, and had a three-and-a-half-year stint working at a startup film financing company. In 2003, Walt returned home to Pennsylvania where he went to work as part of his parents’ financial advisory team. He’s been providing guidance to clients about retirement planning ever since and assumed leadership of his team in May 2008. Now Senior Vice President/Investments at Stifel, he has been a Chairman’s Council producer every year since he joined the firm in 2009. “That puts me in the top 5-7% of Stifel advisors, nationwide every year,” Walt explains. When he’s not at the office, Walt enjoys spending time with his wife, Joan, and two daughters. Equestrian professionals are experts in so many things—developing young horses, training top equitation clients, marketing sales horses. However, we can’t be experts at everything. Which is why we turn to Walt, who is experienced in helping people manage their
Financial Planners money. “There’s a full-time profession dedicated to money management and retirement planning, and the key is to engage with that expertise early and often, and with a long-term view,” Walt explains. “The advice for a healthy financial future is the same as the advice for healthy aging. Have a plan. Start doing the right stuff while you’re young. Be disciplined. And your future self will thank you.” Of course, it can sometimes be difficult for equestrian professionals to look to the future. When business is great, it may seem like each investment horse will pay off better than the last or the client list will keep growing, but this sport isn’t typically something your body can do forever. There’s hard work and hustle, but there should also be some stability to look forward to on the horizon. “The difference that I think needs to be struck in the minds of equestrian professionals is that they should be saving for their futures, in addition to the horses that they want to turn around and sell,” Walt says. By splitting assets between horses, real estate, and financial products, you’ve
given yourself multiple avenues for wealth creation. And by engaging a financial advisor, the wealth creation through financial products requires little to no “work” from the equestrian professional. “The goal is to be saving for 30-40 years from now in an investment diversified from the equine industry, so that way you have something else,” he continues. Saving for retirement doesn’t mean you can’t ride sales horses until your seventies, but it allows you to make that choice. For a group of people accustomed to accounting for every penny (and literally watching it eat hay in the barn), it can be hard to wrap our heads around putting our hard-earned money into something we can’t see. But any horse owner knows the risks associated with using live animals as an investment. “It’s true that you can’t double your money in six months in a diversified stock and bond portfolio, but you’re also not going to lose all your money because of a broken leg,” Walt says. “Investing in the securities markets is a much more objective exercise.”
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Though nothing, especially in our current economic environment, is a sure bet, Walt can help you make the educated decisions for your money despite disturbances in the market. “Of course there can be black swan events that shatter market confidence, recessions, and corporate malfeasance that isn’t apparent to investors until too late, but these risks can be mitigated through disciplined portfolio construction techniques such as diversification, rebalancing, and dollar cost averaging,” he explains. He continues, "While diversification does not ensure a profit and may not protect against loss, it can play a key role in establishing a sound investment strategy and reducing risk." Through knowledge, research, and educated predictions, Walt guides investments like a trainer schooling a young horse through grid work. They sharpen and grow over time. Adding a financial advisor doesn’t mean the end of investment horses, but instead is a way to diversify income sources. It’s like sending one of your homebreds off to a hunter trainer when you feel stronger in the jumper ring. The financial guidance we often hear comes with a mandate to stop spending—especially when it comes to Millennials and fancy coffee. That advice can be hard to handle in an industry where a horse needs eight pairs of new shoes for its owner’s every one, but Walt understands the balance it takes to pursue your financial goals. “I have toys, and I probably spend more money than I need to on coffee as well,” he says with a laugh. “That said, I think all of us have to come to terms with which luxuries are the most important to us. There’s a middle ground between no fun, no spending, and I’m going to buy everything I can afford to buy.” To find that middle ground, Walt discusses goals, budgets, and guidelines for his clients. He helps draw the line between funding necessary expenses for yourself and the horses, and setting yourself up for success in the future all the while understanding how personal money is.
disciplined among us sometimes gets tired and lazy and wants the chocolate chip cookie. There’s a balance,” he explains. “The goal of retirement is not to sacrifice for the rest of your life and not enjoy anything. Rather, it’s to enjoy it all with a balance to the point that when we’re in our sixties we only have to work 14-hour days at the horse show if we want to, not because it’s our only option. I would never advocate sacrificing all the fun of youth to save for your sixties and seventies. But you have to take your sixties and seventies seriously. And you have to treat that future as if it were a business enterprise in itself.” For those ready to get help wrangling their finances, it’s good to know that these services are available for every income bracket. You don’t have to have huge resources sitting around to get on the right track. It’s not the super wealthy that get the most value, but instead the ones who start the process early. “You should start planning in your twenties,” Walt explains. “The compounding effect of each extra decade of saving and discipline is astronomical. It makes a massive amount of difference.” It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out with an introductory salary, only that you learn the discipline of saving. “Always pay yourself first,” Walt says. “And start with a plan.” Of course, if horse people know anything it’s that plans can go awry. What happens when the horse doesn’t sell, or the shows get cancelled for months? That’s where a financial advisor can help you adjust and tweak as needed. “Plans are never set in stone,” Walt states. “I started off as a single guy working as a lawyer with one financial plan at that point in my life. Now I’m a married guy with two kids who will go to college. My plan’s gone through quite a few mutations during the course of my working history these last twenty years, and it’s no different for a young professional who’s just starting out in the equestrian industry.”
“Money is like health. Do you meditate every day? Probably not. Do you get a full 8 hours of sleep? Do you do all of these things that you know you should do for the longest, healthiest life?” he asks. “Most of us don’t. Even the most
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What’s most important is to begin making the plan. Retirement is the exercise of making realistic goals and planning ahead to pursue them. It’s not something you can put off forever. “If you say to me, ‘Hey, I’m 55 years old. I have $50,000 saved, and I want to invest for retirement income,’ I’ll help you to understand what your risk and return expectations should be. But the numbers would look a lot better if you come to me at 35,” Walt explains. His knowledge and years of experience allow him to communicate what realistic goals are, and how he can work with you to look into the future. “This is how wealth management is different from turning around an investment horse,” he adds. “It’s not a twelve-month proposition. It’s a 20-or-more-year proposition.” Walt helps clients manage over $200 million in assets across the nation, and he visits horse shows and farms throughout the year to visit with his clients who work as vets, trainers, brokers, riders, insurance agents, and shippers. By looking at business revenue, employees, and salary etc., he works closely with clients and their accountants to determine an optimal plan for each particular business. That could be a 401(k), SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, or even a traditional Individual Retirement Account. Regardless of where the money is allocated, each individual knows they can trust their livelihood with his expertise. If a new rider came into the barn and said she wanted to show in the 3’6” ring at an A circuit, she couldn’t achieve that kind of goal on her own—she’d need the guidance of a skilled trainer. Equestrians need to view their retirement like a big showing goal. Whether you’re evaluating your assets or a talented young horse, the question is much the same: What’s your plan to pursue your vision of the future? ◼
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT STIFEL | MANCING WEALTH MANAGEMENT GROUP AND WALT MANCING’S FINANCIAL PLANNER SERVICES, PLEASE VISIT www.mancingwm.com.
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The first fake tail on a pony and the first $1 million-dollar hunter: What do these things have in common? Allyson Coluccio’s innovation was at their root. “I always wanted everything to be as good as it could be, so I had to be creative,” said Coluccio, owner of Hidden Ridge International, Inc. “Today, there’s a product for everything, but when I started in this industry over 30 years ago, you had to be resourceful to succeed.” In the 1980s, Allyson was one of the first importers of British Riding Ponies to the United States. “I was really impressed with how fancy the British ponies were,” said Allyson. “The British had already been perfecting their ponies for nearly a century. At the same time, there was a calling for fancier ponies here as people wanted ponies that could win, especially in the under saddle and model classes.” From there, Allyson continued looking for ways to innovate within the pony industry. “Most of the larger ponies were crossed with Arabian horses and didn’t have fantastic tails,” she said. “In the mid-1980s, some people who were showing gaited horses had started to use fake tails to improve their appearance. I thought: ‘Why don’t we try this with the ponies?’ and we did. I even added in tiny fishing weights to the bottom of the tails so the tails would lay flat. It completely transformed the look of my pony’s hind end, and we won the model class at Devon that year.” Allyson’s foresight and attention to detail were clear from the beginning. “After college, I remember finding a pony at a livestock auction for $400,” she said. “I got him back in shape, then resold him for $4,500. People didn’t believe me when I told them that it was the same pony. I realized I could see the potential in a horse or pony.”
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Hidden Ridge International: Finding Beauty in the Small Details Brooke Goddard PHOTOS Tricia Booker/USHJA, Phelps Media, Callie Broaddus, James Parker, & Allyson Coluccio WORDS
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“I look for the little details that make a horse or pony special, and I’ve learned how to spot a diamond in the rough, ” she added. “I also have a realistic understanding of what I can change and not change about an animal.” Her talent for spotting a hidden gem came to light when she purchased Justified. “We came across him when we were on a buying trip for a client who wanted a jumper,” Allyson said. “He was a top show jumper at the time, and I thought he’d make a good hunter. He wasn’t the fanciest mover, but I recognized that his form and technique were spot on. He was super careful – almost too careful. We decided to import him as a hunter prospect.” In fall of 1998, Justified received three perfect scores of 100 at the Middleburg Classic Horse Show— a defining moment in hunter competitions and in Coluccio’s career as a producer of top hunters. “What separated Justified was that he was not only a top-quality horse in the show ring, but kind and willing to his riders,” she added. “He could go be a perfect champion and I felt comfortable putting my then 10-year-old son, Evan, on him. You would tack him up and he could march straight into the show ring to win. He was a horse of a lifetime.” In 1999, Allyson sold Justified for $1 million – the first hunter to be sold for that price in the world.
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In addition to buying and selling horses, Allyson is also a well-known breeder. Most notably, she owned Blue Rain, a grey WelshThoroughbred cross, who held the title of USEF Sire of the Year for the span of a decade from 2004 to 2014. Today, Allyson runs an entire breeding operation at her farm in Middleburg, VA. “Just recently, I’ve started breeding horses as well,” she said. “We have a great group of yearlings and two-year-olds. Of course, I am still breeding the ponies because that’s where my passion is. Right now, we have several stallions standing: EMC Entourage, Eclipse, CS Online, and a few in Europe.”
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Allyson doesn’t like being in the spotlight or in the show ring, but thrives behind the scenes where she makes the magic happen with her ingenuity and imagination. Her son Evan has taken the reins of the riding part of her operation. “My son will ride anything and rides well,” Allyson said. “He’ll get on any horse to try it – it doesn’t matter how green the horse is – which is a big asset to the business.” Evan was groomed for the show ring from a young age. Over his junior career, he earned championships in the pony hunters through the junior jumpers at Devon, Pennsylvania National, and Washington International. He went on to win the Individual Gold Medal in 2006 FEI North American Young Riders’ Championship under chef d'equipe Sandra Ruiz. After that, he had the opportunity to train with some of the biggest names in the sport, including McLain Ward, Katie MonahanPrudent, and Missy Clark, to name a few. Evan also spent over a year training and showing in Europe “My mom has a huge amount of experience and knowledge across various aspects of the sport,” Evan said. “When it comes to the training of the horses, that’s more my department. We know each other’s strengths and feed off that energy. My mom is definitely the glue that keeps it all together. She is very hands-on with the care of all of our horses and she keeps the farm running meticulously. She also has a huge network of connections around the world and has taught me a lot about the industry.” “We want to create happy clients and find the right horses for people,” Evan added. “Not every horse is right for every person. I have some horses that are superstars in the right program and some that go well in any program. We are also looking forward to growing the training side of our business to take on more clients. It’s great to be able to keep working with the horses and see them develop in our program.”
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At the heart of Allyson’s business remains her love of family, horses, and animals in general. She has used the stay-at-home period during the pandemic to spend time with her farm animals, including sheep, miniature cows, miniature horses, and more. “I think it’s healthy for people to take a break from horse shows, spend time with their family, or even go for a trail ride,” she said. “In my free time, I’m involved with Prince Fluffy Kareem, a charity that supports working horses, donkeys, and camels.” Allyson and her team at Hidden Ridge International use their passion to find the perfect horses for her clients’ needs and to grow champions. “There’s no feeling more rewarding than finding or developing a special horse and seeing it go to a great home,” Allyson added. “Some of the horses we develop are just truly special and I’m grateful to do what I do. It’s important to remember why you love what you do. At the end of the day, I love animals.” ◼
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COMPARE THE PHOTO ON THIS PAGE WITH THE ONE ON THE RIGHT PAGE
Find What is Missing or Different! (SOME PHOTO FUN COURTESY SARA SHIER OF SARA SHIER PHOTOGRAPHY)
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May/June May/June 2020 2020 THE THE PLAID PLAID HORSE HORSE
KEY: 1. The word Photography in Sara Shier’s logo is gone. 2. Crop is gone. 3. White flag is gone. 4. Professional Choice logo on girth is gone. 5. 3rd flag is gone. 6. Extra rein slack is gone. 7. One of the letter logos on the jump is gone. 8. Number box is gone. 9. Piping on pad is a different color. 10. 1st flag is a different color.
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Real Estate Feature
What do you wish you knew when you bought your farm? I wish I knew more about plumbing and drainage before we bought our farm. There is always a leaky or broken pipe, sprinkler, or automatic waterer that needs a repair or replacement and having a plumber at your beck and call isn't always possible or affordable. I finally had our plumber help me put together a plumbing kit with all the PVC, fittings, caps, glue, and a cutter and teach me how to use it. Also, you simply can't afford to buy "cheap" -- meaning, you can't afford to have cheaply-made parts break forcing you to pay multiple times to fix the same thing. Do it right the first time or you'll hate yourself every time you look at it forever.
- MICHELLE DECKER RUMANES, Agoura Hills, California
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Always add more stalls than you think you need. The work is never done when you own a farm. Don’t be cheap in small spaces because you will pay for it later.
~ KIRSTEN CRAWFORD, Elgin, Illinois
I wish I knew to ask about the drainage as well as the soil on the property. I get a run off from the neighbor and I’m on clay. Had I asked the questions I would have given the farm a second thought.
Where are all of the water lines, underground utilities, and hidden stuff you wouldn’t know about until you hit it while digging? ~ BRITT MCCORMICK, Allen, Texas
~ LAUREN BERARDI, Rochester, New York
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When looking at your farm (or prospective farm), look at the layout and ask yourself if your space is being used to the best of its ability. It’s not the worst thing if it’s not in that moment because that allows for growth. At our farm, we have recently undergone a major construction overhaul to redo our rings, paddocks, and adding an additional barn to make sure we are getting the most out of our 8.5 acres. Functionality is key when working out of a smaller space.
We built our farm from the ground up and are still in the process. I wish I would have realized how long it would take - permits, weather delays, contractor delays, more permit delays, inspectors, and a global pandemic. I received my agricultural approval in August of 2018. It took another year to get approval for grading on the house, and we are now awaiting another permit and another inspection before we can start insulation and drywall.
~ MEGAN ROSENTHAL, Charlotte, North Carolina
I recommend to everyone: • Know your county and community (we are HOA) laws and regulations. With a complete barn remodel and building a new arena with plenty of grading and retaining walls involved, the project took a year longer than I had anticipated. • Do your research on suppliers. Hay, grain, bedding, manure removal, etc. Make sure you are able to get what you want, when you want it, and have a place to store it! • Footing. Research and get the base RIGHT. Skimp on certain things but not your base, drainage, and footing. Will be worth it in the end.
~ KRISTY MILLER, Murrieta, California
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~ HUNTER MESSINEO, Davidsonville, Maryland
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American-bred Feature _
Meet Bradley: The Homebred Colt Who Inspired a Breeding Operation
When Diana Sturges joined forces with accomplished hunter rider Christopher Payne to breed a few of Diana’s retired mares, the endeavor was meant to be “small and fun,” but more than seven years later, the Columbus, OH, based Shadowlake Farm has established its roots as a successful, hands-on breeding operation. Bradley (Emilion—Warone), who was bred in the early years of the program, is quickly becoming its poster child. The bay gelding is successfully navigating the 6-year-old young jumper divisions and showing promise for more with Diana’s daughter Sarah Sturges, who rides for Payne and David Belford’s New Hope operation in Batavia, OH, and Wellington, FL. The group has worked together to bring Bradley up from the very beginning—an endeavor that has not only repeatedly reaffirmed their belief in their horse, but also in their program. “I see [Bradley’s] success as a confirmation of the breeding and development program that we have put together here,” Diana said. “It is so wonderful to see him go on to become a successful partner for Sarah as they make their way through the young jumper ranks. I love the foals and caring for them no matter what, but to see them grow into successful show horses makes it all the more rewarding.”
Kathy Russell Photography, SportFot, & Shawn McMillen Photography COMPETITION IMAGES
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Bradley is the first foal out of Sarah’s former mount Warone and the group’s first try at breeding a jumper, having begun their foray into the industry with a focus on producing hunters. The group took the advice of Canadian showjumper Chris Sorensen, from whom they originally acquired Warone, on a stallion. Sorensen recommended Emilion for the KWPN stallion’s proven record both in the ring and the breeding shed.
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American-bred Feature _
Bradley was foaled out of a surrogate mare and raised at Shadowlake, and from the very beginning, the bay showed that his greatest asset was his brain. Never rattled by a new task, he rose to every occasion, despite developing more slowly in his body. “He was easy,” Sarah recalled. “He was big and gangly for a while, but he has always had such a good brain. He aims to please and has always wanted to try hard.” “He was big, slow, and casual!” Diana added. Dey Goodman broke Bradley and worked with him at Shadowlake until Diana determined he was ready to move into training with Sarah and Payne. Bradley began periodic training with the New Hope team in his 4-year-old year, and although he still had a somewhat gangly appearance, with a long back, his intelligence and attitude immediately left an impact on Belford. “He was always a horse that just went out of his way to do what Sarah asked, even if it was the first day of working on something new,” he said. “Bradley very rarely has days of acting immature or overcomplicated. He is straightforward; what you see is what you get.” Bradley made his show debut in the training jumpers during the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival, and as he became physically stronger, he turned a corner. His already evident bravery, when coupled with muscle and
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American-bred Feature _
SARAH STURGES & BRADLEY
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THE PLAID HORSE
American-bred Feature _
“It’s amazing how cool it feels when we’ve had a great round or won a big ribbon to know that [Bradley] has grown up with us,” Sarah said. “The fact that I’ve had people who I really look up to in this industry come up to me and say what a nice horse he is, that’s just icing on the cake. I’m really proud of that.”~ Sarah Sturges stamina, quickly translated into big results. The gelding took home his first win in the 1.10m 5-year-old Young Jumper division at the 2019 Deeridge International and went on to top Developing Jumper Tour 5-year-old classes at the Kentucky Spring Classic, Country Heir, Bluegrass Festival, and the Kentucky National. “He is so brave to the jumps. I never question him about that,” Sarah explained. “It has made this whole process really fun for me to know that even though he may make a mistake, he’s going to jump and he’s going to try. “I think the biggest change I’ve seen has been overall strength,” she added. “When he first started in the show program, he was very long bodied and weak. He’s gained so much muscle and stamina over the last couple years and looks like a totally new horse.” That made stepping up to the 1.20m 6-year-old division a seamless transition. Returning to WEF in 2020, the duo consistently produced clear rounds and podium placings at the more challenging height, leaving Sarah encouraged about her partner’s future. “I think he shows a lot of promise, and I’m having so much fun with him, but my goal for him is to be successful at his job, whatever that may end up being,” she explained. “If he’s a horse for me to keep awhile
and help advance my career, great. If down the road, he’s moving a kid up from the children’s jumpers to the junior jumpers, that’s great, too, as long as he’s doing a good job and he is loved by the people around him.” It’s that focus on handson care and development that has allowed Bradley to reach his potential and made an increasing number of professionals in the sport take notice of the Sturges family’s small Ohio breeding operation. Shadowlake Farm is now operating with a strong group of select hunter and jumper broodmares, who, in a collaborative effort between the Sturges, Payne and other industry professionals, are matched with stallions that will produce “the best young horses possible.” All of the foals are born on the farm, and Diana and her team handle them from the day they are born, developing them until they are ready to move into training for the show ring. Diana also offers her developmental services to others, and she and her team regularly work with other mares and foals and young horses through the early stages of their lives. With up to four foals on the ground each year at Shadowlake, the goal is to develop successful hunters and jumpers and to sell them to great homes. Along the way, the group would be happy to have another like Bradley. ◼
ABOVE: SARAH STURGES & HOMEBRED BRADLEY HAVE IMPRESSED IN THE YOUNG HORSE DIVISIONS AT THE WINTER EQUESTRIAN FESTIVAL, GRADUATING WITH EASE TO THE 6-YEAR-OLD YOUNG JUMPERS IN 2020.
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See What the Professionals Are Saying… “Emily is always straight forward and honest, which makes it very easy to get good business done: the correct pony matched to the correct child for a happy outcome. Additionally, she stands by her sales and is always available to help us sell on the other side when the pony has been outgrown.” David & Stacy Lane-Sanderson, Hunter Lane, Inc. Dallas, Texas
“Many of our students take their very first lesson at Balmoral and continue all the way through national finals. The first pony you select for a client has implications for a rider’s entire career in this sport. With that importance to make the right decision, Emily Elek is always one of our first phone calls.” Traci & Carleton Brooks, Balmoral Farm, Los Angeles, California
“When it comes to my clients or my own daughters, there is only one call I make when I need the perfect pony: to Emily Elek.” Elzabeth Lampert, Arbor Hill Farm, Hugo, Minnesota
“I have literally lost count of how many saintly ponies I have gotten from Emily over the last 16 years. Her generous trial policies allow me to make sure that the pony is the perfect match to my clients’ needs before I have to ask them to make a commitment, which I really appreciate as a trainer who always puts her client’s interests first.” Margaret Clayton, Palladia Farm, Green Oaks, Illinois
PHOTO © TORI WEED.
Stonewall Farm • 920-889-0028 S TO N E WA L L P O N I E S@YA H O O.C O M • I XO N I A , W I S C O N S I N May/June 2020 THE PLAID HORSE
Shopping for the pony? We have the largest selection!
Stonewall Farm is the Number One Pony Broker in Volume, North America • Clients ride on average 7 ponies when they fly in to Milwaukee. • Trials available on most ponies with vetting scheduled. • Paid month trials or show trials available on select ponies.
Stonewall Farm • 920-889-0028 S TO N E WA L L P O N I E S@YA H O O.C O M • I XO N I A , W I S C O N S I N
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PHOTO © ANDREW RYBACK PHOTOGRAPHY.
As Spring and Summer arrive around the country, along with that comes the lush Spring grass. Overindulgence or first time exposure to Spring grass can sometimes can lead to short term and long term health issues like colic and laminitis. Here are some items to consider when you have to limit your equine friends intake of fresh grass.
JUST IN TIME... TPH’S GRAZING MUZZLE GUIDE!
1. GreenGuard Grazing Muzzle (gg-equine.com) 3. Easy Breathe Poly/Nylon Adjustable V Grazing Muzzle (jtidist.com)
The GreenGuard muzzle is the most comfortable, breathable, and durable grazing muzzle currently available. Made in Europe from a food-grade polymer, it stays cool even in the heat of summer, is water resistant, and easily outlasts traditional canvas muzzles. Available in Black, Lime, and Raspberry. Retail price: $109.95 3.
Double “quick grip” closure allows top of muzzle to be adjusted to fit snuggly around horse’s face for custom fit. Adjustable added V from the center of the nose to the crown rings to help prevent the horse from rubbing the muzzle off. Poly/nylon web halter/muzzle all-in-one combination for controlling over eating by limiting intake through the small opening at the bottom of the muzzle. Large holes in front for easy breathing. Adjustable nylon halter with throat snap and ring for leading. Sizes: Mini, Yearling, Pony, Small Horse, Horse, Large Horse. Retail price starts at $29.95. 4. Tough1 Easy Breathe Grazing Muzzle Attachment (jtidist.com) Retail price starts at $19.95. 5. Shire’s Equestrian Deluxe Grazing Muzzle (shiresequestrian.com)
2. Best Friend Padded Leather Crown Horse Grazing Muzzle (bestfriendequine.com)
The newest addition to the Best Friend line of grazing muzzles – now with more breathing space and a padded double buckle leather crown. The deluxe muzzle has a roomy fit to allow for chewing. Sizes: Cob, Horse, and Large Horse. Color: Charcoal. Retail price $46.79. 5.
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Lined with a synthetic wool to help protect against chafing and improve airflow around the delicate nose area, the Shires Deluxe Grazing Muzzle is cut back under the chin to avoid unnecessary pressure and features a rubber base with a hole in the bottom to allow for some grazing. Fastened with adjustable touch-close straps and including a D-ring for easy leading these muzzles provide a safe, comfortable solution. Sizes available: Small Pony, Pony, Cob, Full and Extra Full. MSRP $39.99.
6. Thinline Flexible Filly Grazing Muzzle (ThinLineGlobal.com) It’s time to feel good about protecting your horse! The ThinLine Flexible Filly Grazing Muzzle is lighter, softer, safer, and more durable. New adjustable grazing hole size lets you customize your horse's grass intake. UV resistant, antimicrobial, medicalgrade resin-based polymer. Clearly the right choice. The Plaid Horse readers can use coupon code PLAIDHORSE to get 10% off of their Flexible Filly Grazing Muzzle at ThinLineGlobal.com.
7. The Harmany Muzzle (harmanyequine.com/shop) The Harmany Muzzle attaches to your horse’s breakaway halter. It’s easy to clean, does not retain water, and is comfortable, adjustable, and effective. Sized from Mini to Draft. Prices start at $57.99. For a better fit check out the Harmany Halter (sold separately).
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Whether it’s on the East Coast, West Coast, or somewhere in between, searching for an equestrian property can be overwhelming and exhausting. There are so many things to consider when purchasing an equestrian property so we’ve asked some equestrian real estate experts to share their thoughts on what to consider when looking for a horse property.
Shirley Sullivan, Principal Broker, Farms and Barns Real Estate, NH
Serving New Hampshire’s Horse Community Statewide 1. The List: Want Vs Must Have… The first piece of advice I can offer is that you write down what you must have and what you would like to have. Be realistic. Your budget and cash on hand will determine what you wind up with. 2. Financing Facilities vs Backyard Barns… Before you set foot onto a property, find an agent who knows horse properties, whether you are planning on the purchase of a fullfledged facility or a 4-stall backyard barn. It matters. Depending on your plans, ask the agent to recommend lenders so that you can come to the table preapproved – being prepared speaks volumes to a seller. Facilities require special financing because they are viewed as commercial endeavors by “regular” banks. Most facility buyers are in the horse industry already and that is great because most facility lenders or commercial departments in local banks will want to see a resume and most ask for a business plan. Why? Because you will be using the income history from the property as part of your “income” to qualify for the loan and they want to know that you know what you are doing. Backyard barns can generally be financed conventionally, although a bank appraisal will not assign much value to the barn regardless of its
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quality and condition. Conventional financing wants to see the majority of the property’s value in the house. 3. Know Your Zoning… We have this specific information on our website for a reason ‘We highly recommend that you contact the local zoning, planning and/or building department to confirm your intended use of any property as part of your due diligence prior to purchase. Don’t assume that because you see a property for sale or neighboring properties being used a certain way that you can do the same. Zoning regulations can change, some properties may “grandfathered” or operating under a variance or special exception that may not be transferable to you so you should always verify for yourself that you can use, expand or modify a property in the manner you intend.’ These days you can view most property assessment cards online and check things out. Local zoning and individual town ordinances about keeping horses should be reviewed. How many acres per horse? (Yes, several towns in New Hampshire have limits). Don’t assume that what you see is allowed. 4. Topography… As you approach a property, note the topography. New England gets a lot of rain. Where does the runoff go? Good drainage is critical. Our pastures are rarely flat here. They range from slightly sloped to gently rolling to hilly. There should be a level place closer to the barn for safe winter turnout. While looking around, note or ask how drinking water is handled to these outdoor areas. Some horse owners are happy with a large paddock setup and feeding hay year-round. Some horse owners prefer 24/7 turnout with run-in sheds. If the latter is you, be sure they are adequate in size for the number of horses you have and are in good repair. Pastures require serious manure management, weedwhacking fence lines and weed growth control, fertilizing and mowing. Whatever your preferences, keep your eyes wide open. 5. Fencing… Is it adequate and safe for now? You will always do things to make the property your own, but the basics should be there. If the fences are not, as in the case of a retired owner who hasn’t had horses on the property for years and removed the fencing, can you afford to do this immediately after your purchase?
6. Where will you ride? Is there an outdoor arena? Is the footing in good shape and is it well drained? If there isn’t riding arena, is there room for one? Where can it go? 7. The Barn… You know what you want in a barn, whether it’s 2 or 200 years old. Are the stalls large enough or is there adequate room to add what you need? How is the hay, bedding and tool storage? Is the electrical up to snuff? Where is the water? The tack room should be dry and able to be secured. This goes for facilities as well. There will be more space and bigger systems to consider. Does the barn complex have a well separate from the house? If there is running water, does it have a septic system? A heated tack or viewing room might mean there’s a central heating system to have inspected. Make sure your home inspector also inspects the barn, especially the electrical system. Let the inspector know this when you request an appointment so that enough time is allotted. 8. Indoor Inspection… Ceiling or truss height for jumpers, footing for certain disciplines, what kind of lighting is in use? Generally, the wider the building, the more expensive the construction. And the roof, have someone check the roof. They are expensive so have it thoroughly inspected. 9. Trailer Parking… Is there room for trailer parking and the ability to maneuver a truck and trailer if you take your horse off site? Is there storage for things like a manure spreader, tractor and implements? 10. Oh, and don’t forget! Get a look at the house that comes with the property. For more info contact Shirley Sullivan: Email email@example.com Visit www.farmsandbarns.com
William Landesman, Kienlen Lattmann Sotheby’s International Realty, Bedmintser, NJ (also licensed in CA) 6. Local Horse Community… Is there a local riding/trail association, a community to get involved in. Are there trainers in the area? Facility Considerations: 1. Lay of the Land… Is enough of the land level and open with adequate turn-out and drainage for the number of horses you intend to have on the property? Real estate on the West coast differs from properties found on the East coast but when shopping for an equestrian property the considerations are the same. I’ve broken it out into two different categories “Farmettes”, which I consider to be a house and a few stalls on smaller acreage, and “Facilities”, which are professionaltype training and boarding facilities. There should be some overlap and you should always consider room for expansion of the property you are looking at. Farmette Considerations 1. Know the local zoning rules… as to how many horses per acre you can keep. 2. Proximity to trails: i.e. Can you ride off the property or do you have to trailer-out to trail ride? 3. Topography… Is the property level and dry? 4. Is there a riding arena on property? Or if not, is there room to add one without sacrificing something else like turn-out?
2. Are there boarders there now? One of the major concerns from a Seller’s perspective is that they will lose their boarders if they decide to put the farm on the market but one of the most asked questions I get when I’m selling a boarding facility is if the boarders will stay. Many prospective Buyers would like a business in place so there’s cash flow from day one. 3. Room for Expansion… Are the number of stalls adequate for a business to be successful or can more be added? 4. Professional Housing… Staff/grooms housing 5. Ease of Access… Access for trucks and trailers 6. Local Amenities/Services… Proximity to veterinary support, highways, feed stores and horse shows. 7. Existing Amenities… Size of indoor and outdoor arenas and quality of the base and footing. For more info contact William Landesman: Email firstname.lastname@example.org Visit www.williamlandesman.com for NJ Visit www.wldesertliving.com for CA
5. Fencing… Is the current fencing adequate or do you have to update?
PHOTO BRANDON RANDOLPH, PEXELS.COM
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SHOW STRIDES BOOK 2: Confidence Comeback
Show Strides –
Available now on Amazon (Kindle & Audible too!) We hope you are enjoying book 1 of The Plaid Horse’s new novel series, Show Strides. To celebrate Pony Finals – and summertime reading – we are happy to share this excerpt of book 2 below. Show Strides books 1 and 2 are available on Amazon (paperback, Kindle and Audible), and at select tack stores. ••• “Oh my gosh, Goose, you are gorgeous!” Tally whispered. The pony perked his ears and took a couple of tentative steps toward her. He was a dark dapple gray—gray horses and ponies got lighter in color as they aged; Goose was obviously quite young, with a neatly pulled, silvery mane and the most adorable dished face. He had a pink muzzle and looked cozy in his plaid blanket. Meeting him reminded Tally of opening model horses on Christmas morning and marveling over just how perfect they looked. And here she was, in the stall of a pony just like that. Only this one was real. She quickly noticed just how curious he was. Maybe it was his age, or the fact that she was a new person to him, but he took great interest in everything from the soft
brush she ran across his neck, to her coat when she bent over to pick out his feet. At first, she jumped when he placed his head on the small of her back—a flinch that came from years of grooming certain schoolies who’d try to nip you when you weren’t looking. Goose looked mildly offended when Tally flinched, so she rubbed his neck and told him it was okay. When she picked out the other front hoof, Goose tentatively placed his chin on her back again and Tally giggled quietly. She finished getting the pony ready, the two of them quietly enjoying each other’s company.
rides a lot bigger than he actually is. Keep circling and bending him and let him see the ring. Oh, and don’t get any taller, okay? You just barely fit on this one.”
Tally walked Goose up to the path toward the large indoor, and the pony moved slowly beside her. He was calm, but he took his time checking things out, like a stray lead rope left in the grass, as they made their way up the hill. He also paused to greet one of the full-time grooms who was walking down the hill toward the barn.
After another couple of flat rides on Goose by herself, Tally had her first lesson on the pony scheduled for Friday afternoon. She was so excited to jump him. While she recognized the feeling of a big, rocking stride from riding Danny, it was somehow different on Goose. The way he covered the ground just sort of… happened. It felt like he was just skipping along, without a care in the world.
Ten minutes later, Tally had walked Goose one lap around the ring on a loose rein, and then once more, picking up some contact with his mouth. Ryan told her to trot the pony around, do some circles, and generally just let him see the ring. Tally picked up the trot and was immediately taken aback by what the pony felt like underneath her. It was not at all what she expected out of a small pony, more than two hands shorter than the mare she was used to riding. “What do you think?” Ryan asked. “He’s pretty special, huh?” “There’s just… so much stride,” Tally replied. Ryan chuckled. “Yeah, he covers a lot of ground. Tons of stride. He measures 12.2 so he’s technically a small, but he’s really big-bodied, so he probably
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Tally smiled and kept trotting around on Goose. Though she had hacked Danny at least a dozen times, the concept of flatting a pony herself – without the usual instruction and direction of a lesson – was still a fairly novel one. She felt so special making circles around the jumps and guiding this fancy little newcomer while Ryan taught another student.
“That’s what you want in a pony who will do the division one day,” Isabelle had told her when they were in the tack room together. “That groundcovering stride feels good to ride, doesn’t it?” Tally agreed with her, feeling very lucky to help bring the pony along. Once Tally finished flatting in her first lesson on Goose, Ryan adjusted a line and told her to trot in and canter out in five strides. Tally was surprised, and as usual, the emotion showed on her face. “What’s up? That sound okay?” “Totally,” she quickly answered. “I just thought we’d be starting with little cavaletti or something.” “Always a method to my madness,” Ryan told her with a wink. “Just keep
your leg on to the base, and then when you land, sit chilly, focus on keeping him straight. If you get five strides, six strides, I don’t really care. I want straightness and a consistent canter. Let’s see what we got.” Tally picked up her trot and concentrated on keeping G between her leg and hand before turning him toward the first jump of the line, a small cross-rail. “Keep your eye up, Tal, aim for the middle.” Tally did as Ryan instructed and G popped up over the fence, cute as can be. He landed cantering slightly to the left. Tally pulled on the right rein to correct him and he skewed a little too far right. She finally got him straight one stride before the vertical and he gave it a nice, lofty effort. “Not bad, but you need to steer him with your legs a lot more if he’s wiggly down the line. Your hand isn’t going to fix that; this
needs to come from behind. Do it again.” The next time, Tally jumped in and corrected G’s wiggles with her leg signals – she was pleasantly surprised to see that she didn’t need to use the reins much, if at all – and he stayed straighter this time trotting in and cantering out in the five. “Much better! Now do the same thing and then turn left and come up over this little vertical,” Ryan said, lowering the single jump on the diagonal. G navigated the five-stride line even better this time, with Tally having to do less to keep him straight. They cantered through the turn, and once he got his eye on the diagonal single he surged forward a little – they met the fence too close, G popping over it in an uncomfortable chip. “You rode that whole thing great until three or four strides out from the last jump,” Ryan said as Tally slowed the pony to a walk. “He changed the pace on you and went past the distance, which is why you chipped. Try it again and just settle him softly and quietly with your hand
while still supporting him with your leg.” G breezed through the outside line again, as if some of his greenness had evaporated over just a few efforts. Tally kept him straight and balanced away from the jump and through the turn. When he picked up the pace again on his way to the single vertical, she squeezed her fingers around the reins and sat tall, keeping both legs lightly on his sides. The pony slowed down just enough that, after a couple more balanced strides, they met the vertical much better. “Good, Tal, that’s the ride! You’ve got such a nice feel, and I think this guy knows his job pretty well already. Go ahead and quit with that, tell him he’s a good boy.” We want to hear from you: Share your thoughts on Show Strides by writing to email@example.com, and leave us a review on Amazon!
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Winter Equestrian Festival, Wellington, FL, January - March, 2020. 1. Adrienne Sternlicht. 2. Daneli Miron. 3. Mimi Gochman. 4. Sophie Gochman. 5. McLain Ward. 6. Kent Farrington.
PHOTOS © QUINN FOOR.
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PICK UP A BOOK & READ! What readers are saying about SHOW STRIDES, BOOK 1 School Horses & Show Ponies ”I purchased this book for my 12 yr old niece who is currently obsessed with anything and everything horses. Her mom sent me a text to let me know she wouldn't put the book down, was bringing it to school, and even to the barn to show her riding trainer. We got rave reviews from her and she asked when the next books will be released. Looking forward to sending her more as they become available. Thanks for supplying horse crazy kids a family friendly, horse-related book for youngsters to enjoy!” Amazon Reviewer ★★★★★ “Growing up reading The Saddle Club this book took me back to those days. I loved the messages the book portrayed about hard work, dedication and learning to handle disappointment. These concepts were woven in throughout a great story that had me reading from cover to cover. If there is a horse crazy kid in your life, don't think twice buy it now!” Amazon Reviewer ★★★★★ “A fun read for the pre-teen. Good story line and good characters. I like that there wasn’t a mean girl at the barn, there is enough negativity in the world already. I like the ending and hope it means this will become a series. Clearly written by people who know horses!” Amazon Reviewer ★★★★★ “This book gives an in-depth look at learning how to ride competitively at a young age. This story is about working hard to achieve athletic and personal goals. A great read for young women, athletes, and horse-lovers.” Amazon Reviewer ★★★★★
Available now on Amazon (Kindle & Audible too!)
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just want to tell all of those kids out there who have no money and come from a non-horsey background and have no access to top professionals… with no idea what to do to achieve their goals… and are leasing a 23-year-old 2/5 lame Thoroughbred, riding around unrecognized events with a plastic Troxel helmet and white rubber reins with no hair net and an un-tucked polo shirt you borrowed from your brother and DEFINITELY unsure if your horse is on the bit or not but have plans on going to the Olympics one day…
Do not, under any circumstance, stop trying.” Meg Kep 70 ┃ THE PLAID HORSE ┃ May/June 2020
PICK UP A BOOK & READ! What readers are saying about SHOW STRIDES, BOOK 2 Confidence Comeback “My 10 year old daughter started reading this series over the Summer and hasn’t put it down. She is able to identify with a lot of the characters in the books and is excited for the 3rd book of the series to be available.” Amazon Reviewer ★★★★★ “Didn’t think my little one would put this book down at the Pennsylvania National Horseshow! She finished this book at the show and is now reading it out loud to share with me. I have to say, I am loving this just as much as she is!!! Can’t wait for book 3!” Amazon Reviewer ★★★★★ “Great listen for rides to horseshows and lessons. This book is for serious, young riders, written by serious riders! Read by the author, which is cool.” Amazon Reviewer ★★★★★
READ THEM ALL!
Available now on Amazon (Kindle & Audible too!)
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“The road may bend out of sight at times, but I know what lies ahead: the faraway horses.” Buck Brannaman, The Faraway Horses
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PICK UP A BOOK & READ! A Sneak Preview… SHOW STRIDES, BOOK 3 Moving Up and Moving On
After a successful trip to Devon, the Field Ridge team returns home to Oaks for the summer, where life at the barn is as busy as ever. A jumper rider named Jacob and his horse Carlo begin trailering in for lessons with trainer Ryan, and the girls learn that being a boy in the sport has its own unique challenges. Tally and Goose are improving with each show, and Mac struggles with body confidence as they head toward their big summer finale, Pony Finals.
READ THEM ALL!
Available now on Amazon (Kindle & Audible too!)
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Is Your Horse a Healthy Weight? All About Body Condition Scores When determining the optimal diets for our horses, there is a standardized way of measuring the current and ideal weight of a horse through the use of the body condition score, or BCS. The standard body condition scoring scale for horses ranges from a 1 to a 9, with 1 being emaciated, 9 being morbidly obese, and 5 to 6 being ideal. The score for an individual horse is generally reported as a 5/9 meaning that the horse has a score of 5 on a scale from 1-9. Even with this standard well documented, horse owners still experience a great deal of confusion and anxiety about the ideal weight for their individual horse.
BY DR. HEATHER BEACH As a horse owner, you should be objective when assessing your horse’s weight, and listen carefully to the advice and input of your veterinarian when discussing your feeding program. Many people will irrationally equate feeding their horses (and other pets) with loving them, and as a result, obesity in horses and other domestic animals is extremely common. It is important to remember that the health consequences of having an overweight horse are oftentimes FAR more severe and dire than having a slightly underweight horse. An obese horse puts more stress on its joints, tendons/ligaments, and hooves. Most importantly however, obesity in horses causes a cascade of metabolic changes which greatly increase the chance for the development of laminitis. Laminitis is a painful and frequently irreversible disease of the hoof which often necessitates euthanasia. Just as obesity in humans dramatically increases the risk for a fatal heart attack, obesity in horses can have deadly consequences due to laminitis.
Your veterinarian can help you objectively determine your horse’s current body condition score and will take into account his/her breed, level of athleticism, and medical history to determine if the current score is the most appropriate one for your horse. The BCS Chart can be used to identify areas of fat accumulation in the horse and will help you learn how to accurately body condition score your own horse: 1. Tailhead 2. Crease down back 3. Ribs 4. Along the withers 5. Along the neck 6. Behind shoulder The ideal body condition score is between 5 and 6.
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Horses in the 5-6 range will have some fat under the skin in the areas shown in the diagram, making those areas slightly prominent and spongy to palpation. If you notice any large accumulations of fat on your horse in the areas outlined in the diagram, chances are your horse is overweight and in danger of serious health consequences. If your horse is underweight, the areas noted in the diagram may appear sunken and bony prominences may be more visible.
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HAY BELLIES It is important to note that the size of the horse’s belly is NOT an indicator of body condition. Humans, predominantly adult human males, do have a tendency to accumulate intra-abdominal fat. This fat is stored within a special abdominal connective tissue called “omentum” and is responsible for the uniquely recognizable “beer belly” appearance (i.e., Santa Claus and his belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly, or Homer Simpson). For the most part however, fat stores in people and animals are most extensive just underneath the skin and covering muscle (like the fat at the edge of a pork chop or a steak).
If your horse has a particularly round and distended abdomen, it is much more likely to be due to a “hay belly.” A hay belly has a couple of different contributing factors, but is predominantly caused by physically having a large amount of ingesta or partially digested food sitting within the large intestinal viscera of the horse.
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The intestinal viscera, particularly the large colon and cecum of the horse take up a tremendous amount of space within the abdomen. If there is a large volume of feed or gas within the viscera, it stands to reason that the abdomen will appear more distended and “larger”. Coarse first cut hay which tends to be more fibrous and “bulkier” will further expand a hay belly. This distended abdomen may also appear “pendulous” and hang downwards considerably in horses with a poor topline and weak abdominal muscles, or in broodmares who have had foals in the past. A horse who is unfit, or who is not ridden in a manner that strengthens his core (topline and abdominal muscles) will have a “saggier” belly and may be mistaken as “fat” by the owner.
BREED DIFFERENCES Different breeds of horses tend to be naturally leaner or heavier than other breeds. Do not be worried if your lean and athletic off the track thoroughbred does not ever seem to get above a body condition score of 5. Likewise, it may take a great deal of effort to get your Hafflinger pony DOWN to a body condition score of 6.
EQUINE METABOLIC SYNDROME It is important to note that horses suffering from Equine Metabolic Syndrome may paradoxically have large fat deposits and ribs showing at the same time. Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) is the name given to describe horses who have become
insulin resistant and thus have a difficult time processing sugars/ glucose from the diet. Horses with EMS and insulin resistance are at the highest risk of having an episode of laminitis. These horses may show extreme “regional adiposity,” meaning very large accumulations of fat in the areas highlighted on the BCS chart. The presence of the fat on the horse’s body further exacerbates the insulin resistance. Owners may be aware and work hard to limit starches and sugars in the diet, often resulting in weight loss. It may be difficult to get the horse to lose the fat deposits in a severely insulin resistant horse, resulting in a slightly “ribby” horse with large fat deposits. Horses with this appearance need to have their diet very closely managed to minimize chances of having a laminitic episode.
THE ROLE OF EXERCISE Regular exercise improves your horse's insulin sensitivity and helps maintain a happy balance between muscle and fat. Just as in people, there is no dietary shortcut for exercise. Regular work is good for your horse, especially if his/her turnout is limited. A horse who is in full regular work can tolerate a slightly higher body condition score since exercise will improve insulin sensitivity. A word of caution to all the show riders who like to keep their working horses on the “plump” side, however. A horse who is overweight but in consistent work may be a compensated insulin resistant horse. If injury or illness causes the horse to come out of work for a protracted period of time, they may become decompensated and suddenly be at risk of developing laminitis. Another important consideration for sport horses -- underweight horses will struggle to put on and maintain topline. Lean horses who do not put on muscle most likely need additional calories. Most of the time this need can be met with more or better quality forage (hay) but there can also be a deficiency of essential amino acids like lysine, Vitamin E, or the horse may have an underlying muscle disorder such as PSSM that will respond to added fat in the diet. A full veterinary workup for underweight horses includes a thorough oral exam, diet and work history, fecal exam, and may involve gastroscopy to check for gastric ulcers, testing for Cushing's Disease depending on the age of the horse, Vitamin E and Selenium levels and/or general bloodwork and tests for infections diseases like Lyme disease or EPM. ◼
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR HORSE’S BODY CONDITION OR RISK FACTORS FOR DEVELOPING LAMINITIS, DISCUSS THEM WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN.
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It’s easy to get bummed out with no horse shows on the horizon, but here at TPH, we are all about keeping dreams alive in the interim. What will your return to the show ring look like? Rachel Howell posed this question in The Plaid Horse Adult Amateur Lounge on Facebook (join us if you’re not a member already!) and here are some of our favorite answers…
When we finally get back to horse showing, I promise to… “Not be so hard on myself and focus more on the small victories!” JEN KESSLER
“I promise to enjoy the ride and not get caught up in an endless pursuit for perfection.” ALYSSA MYATT
“ Wear my rust breeches.” RACHEL HOWELL
“Stop being so nervous and ENJOY the privilege.” RENNIE DYBALL
“Not wait until the night before to clip my clipper-shy creature…” SAMMI TUCKERMAN
“Go fast and keep my horse’s faith in me!” SUSAN GLOVER
“Bring my Clorox wipes!” JOAN WESTAWAY ALBERTI
“Say yes more!” KATE MCKEE BLACK
“Enjoy myself and not overthink because even chipping every jump is better than sitting on my couch, watching old show videos, and crying (not that I’m doing that …)” CLAIRE CAUST-TAYLOR
PHOTO © ANDREW RYBACK PHOTOGRAPHY.
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Stephanie Ray Peters speaks out about the shame that permeates the horse show world— and what all of us can do to change it.
When Stephanie Ray Peters arrived at the Desert International Horse Park in January to show her four horses, she took a seat outside of hunter ring 1. She watched beautiful rounds in the picturesque setting, but instead of enjoying the horse show, Peters found herself overcome with the urge to hide, shielding her face beneath a sun hat.
Rennie Dyball & Lauren Mauldin PHOTOS Megan Strait, Barbara Dudley & Stephanie Peters WORDS
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“I felt so uncomfortable, but I couldn’t figure out why,” she tells The Plaid Horse. “I didn’t want to be seen. I’d been through a lot of surgeries in the last two years—including brain surgery and a double mastectomy—due to a hormonal disorder, so my body had changed and I was worried about what people would think. But there was also something more.” For four days, Peters watched hunter ring 1. “I watched riders go in and come out. Do well, people clap for you. Do badly, and it’s silent. It was this very empty feeling,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘This is not what showing is supposed to be.’”
Despite renting a house in the desert with plans to show her horses throughout the circuit, Peters scratched all of her classes. She left Thermal during week 2, having never set foot in the irons. “It was the first time in my life I didn’t want to get on a horse,” she says. “I thought getting back to horse showing would be the answer to my sadness after battling through all these health issues, but for some reason, it wasn’t. I spent a lot of time soul-searching.” What she discovered was two-fold: Her personal health struggles had left her feeling insecure, but she also noticed a pervasive, toxic theme at the horse show. “I felt ashamed that my body had changed. I gained some weight after surgery, I wasn’t in the same shape I’d been in two years ago when I last showed. I no longer had breasts, and my show clothes fit different,” says Peters. “But there was something more, too. It took me a while to process it, but there’s this vibe that floats around the horse show. A secret, unspoken vibe. Some people might not recognize it, but I think most do, even if they’re not exactly sure what it’s about.” “And that vibe is shame.” The more Peters thought about it, the more she realized that nearly everyone in the horse show world is affected by shame in one way or another. “Whether it’s the way you look, feeling like you don’t have enough money or the right horse, or not being perfect … everyone has these feelings, but it’s just not something people talk about.” And that’s the first thing Peters would like to change. Speaking from her 17-acre farm in Bend, OR, the 32-year-old insists she’s not looking for pity or admiration in sharing her personal story. Instead, she wants to kick off conversations so that all riders, trainers, and parents can look critically at our sport and the way that shame thrives in it.
Shame Though Peters couldn’t name the uneasy feeling until earlier this in Thermal, she’d already had a lifetime of experiencing shame. In recent years, she’s earned great success in all three rings against some of the industry’s best, though her beginnings in the sport were much simpler. Like it does for many, it all started with a pony. Ginger, a shetland pony gifted to Peters and her sister when she was four years old, introduced her to the magical presence that horses can have. “Something about her energy made me feel calm and happy,” says Peters. Kids at school bullied her for being bigger or generally “different” in any way, but Ginger showed her a quiet acceptance of friendship. “I felt like she cared about me just as I was. She understood my secrets and emotions, and we could keep them just between us,” says Peters. The bond between her and this gentle pony was quick and powerful. It would be the foundation that carried Peters through challenges that she couldn’t yet imagine.
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“I was always a big kid but horses gave me wings,” says Peters. “I could never repay them for that. But they know, and they look at me with that acceptance. Everybody’s horse does that for them. Horses give you all those feelings. It’s people who take them away.”
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Relaxed afternoons whispering secrets to Ginger and going on pony rides turned into riding lessons and horse shows as Peters began to advance through the sport. School remained a prison for her, full of judgmental peers unwilling to step outside of their own experience, but she looked forward to going to the barn every day. Through learning the nuances required for the hunter and equitation rings, she also learned a greater lesson—living in the present. “Being on a horse forced me to focus on the ‘now,’ and I loved that feeling,” she says. “Being able to feel every step and have an animal of that size with such incredible power listen to what you’re asking of them made me feel worthy and capable.” Gaining that sense of power and accomplishment from horses lit the path for Peters to make strides in the show ring that would have shocked her younger self. With her hunter superstar partner, Castle Hill, she won three Hunter Prixs back-toback as well as qualifying for Prix finals and indoors on the east coast. She’s earned many tri-colors at Thermal in both the Amateur-Owner Jumpers and Hunters, and continues to be an essential partner to her team of talented horses. Simply put, she’s a powerhouse of an amatuer rider. If you asked Peters four years ago what she was proudest of, she would have listed these accomplishments in the show ring. But a lifelong struggle with an unnamed illness and a seven-hour brain surgery changed her perspective. And her answer. “The day I got back on after recovering from brain surgery I cried and cried and cried as I cantered around on Avery (Castle Hill),” she says. “I didn’t know if I would ever be able to ride the way I had for so long, and being back in the saddle after eight months of recovery was the best feeling in the entire world.”
A GREAT PLUS-SIZE RIDER Peters didn’t know a hormonal disorder was to blame for her large stature until she was 30 years old. Always a big girl growing up, she was shamed for her size in the horse world at every turn. “I’ve even had a trainer tell me I had to lose 50 pounds before I could ride my own horse,” she recalls. Peters is 5’10,” wears a size 12 boot, and needs her boots and show coats custom-made. But she’s proven her doubters wrong with great success in the show ring from her junior years to the 3'6" Amateur-Owner Hunters, laying down impressive scores everywhere from Devon to Indoors. “Some people have seen me on a horse and said I’m a great plus-size rider. That’s positive and rewarding for me, but at the same time, they don’t even know why I’m plus-size,” she says. “Feeling misunderstood is a big part of this. People think I probably don’t take care of myself or that I overeat. They don’t know the reason I’m bigger is due to a disease I can’t control. I do hope that one day our industry can get to the point where ‘plus-size’ isn’t a thing that always needs to be pointed out. You don’t have to be thin to be an elegant rider. A body is just a body. And good riding is good riding.”
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Solving the Medical Mystery But to be able to understand the joys of recovery, she had to first diagnose the illness. After a lifetime of frustrating health issues physicians were unable to pinpoint, Peters was finally diagnosed with Acromegaly. The disorder causes the pituitary gland to produce too much hormone, resulting in bones—including those of the hands, feet and face—to continually grow. Acromegaly can also overgrow organs and produce joint disease, which caused Peters to require several surgeries, including a double mastectomy when a tumor produced too much prolactin, causing chronic infection. The scars, both emotional and physical, are all hidden under a show coat. Sometimes the greatest tests we face are never seen by a judge. “My life for two years became a blur of appointments, tests and operations,” Peters explains. “I got lost in this horrible reality of illness and the person I always knew—rider, friend, traveler—was put on hold.” Struggling with the diagnosis put Peters in a situation unlike any before. No amount of hard work could fix it. While she battled against something she couldn’t control, she felt the shame of living in an unruly body. “I felt so ashamed that dieting and exercising couldn’t control this disease that I didn’t even know I had,” she says. Without her knowing, Acromegaly caused rapid weight changes, dramatic spikes and drops in blood sugar levels, and many bad days of malaise that kept Peters away from the horse show. “Most of the time I would push through and stay strong in the midst of all the struggles,” she says, “but it was very difficult to fight something I didn’t even know I had.”
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“I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” ~ Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW
The official diagnosis came with a sense of relief that this unknown adversary could finally be named, but it also brought an unwelcome threat—a large brain tumor. The tumor, pushing against Peters’ pituitary gland, pushed her growth hormone levels to 700. Normal is under 10. It made her disease progress very quickly, and had to come out. Feeling thankful for finally getting an answer to her health struggles— but also fearful about the extensive surgery—Peters prayed the night before her operation. Eight doctors watched over her in the O.R. as they went through her nose and into the skull to remove the tumor during the seven-hour surgery. The extensive surgery began an eight month long recovery process where Peters had to push through chronic headaches and side effects such as losing her sense of taste and smell for three months.
A BUMPY ROAD TO RECOVERY Peters underwent her brain surgery in March 2018, and her double mastectomy that October. But shortly after the second surgery, she was rushed back to the ER and diagnosed with blood clots in her lungs. In the 33-day stay in the ICU that followed, Peters also developed MRSA in her breast drains. Unable to ride after these complications, (she was on blood thinners for her lungs and falling off was deemed too risky), she began swimming, biking, and jogging. In June 2019, she competed in a triathlon. “I think that was me trying to prove to myself that nothing can stop me,” says Peters. Once she was cleared to ride again, Peters finally got her victorious canter on her beloved Avery. But the reunion didn’t come without its own challenges. “I could still ride well and find the jumps, but I had a different brain and a different body,” she explains. “I needed some time to accept that new way of being.” What remained unchanged however, was the feeling of freedom horses offer. After feeling trapped in her body for so long, each small victory in the saddle carried more joy than ever before, and the horses accepted her through every step. “That’s the gift they keep giving me,” she says. “They’ve made my disease and the journey back to myself all worth it, because they’ve been there for me in good days and bad without judgment.” Peters’ horses have made her feel proud of who she
is and what she can accomplish even after such horrible medical diagnoses. “Their love and acceptance helped heal the shame I had carried for so long for being different.”
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While her body healed and adjusted to the hormone changes from removing the tumor, she reflected on life and how she would aim to live the rest of it. Through everything, horses kept her strong. Although she wasn’t allowed to ride, she still went out to visit and enjoy the same support that horses offered her when she was the young girl who had no conception of hospital visits or brain tumors. She rescued and rehabbed horses and ponies from afar as she recovered, and then went to the barn to visit. “Seeing them made it a lot easier for me to cope with what I had gone through, and the thought of being back in the saddle one day was what kept my determination strong,” she says.
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TRAINING THE HEALING RIDER Whether a rider is healing from a broken arm or recovering from brain surgery, the trainer holds an essential role in the process of getting back in the saddle and into the show ring. Beyond drilling equitation or rides without stirrups, Lindsey Garner of Capstone Equestrian knows the most crucial part of getting riders comfortable again is mutual trust. “Often I think that, as busy professionals, trainers can come across as intimidating or difficult to approach, especially when we get busy with showing and teaching a lot of lessons,” Garner says. “It’s important to stop and take the time to develop trust and good, open communication.” Part of the communication she builds with her clients is LINDSAY GARNER understanding that showing is only a small part of what we do as equestrians. “Yes it’s fun and an important aspect of what we do, but it’s just one part of the big picture,” she explains. When clients are nervous or lacking confidence, she makes sure to talk through their feelings openly in a comfortable place away from the bustle of the ring. “We often remind our clients that riders at every level—including the very top of the sport—get nerves and suffer from low confidence at times. Being able to discuss what’s going on and why often leads to better riding and better rounds,” Garner continues. She makes an effort to share her own challenges as well, and foster an environment where mistakes are seen as an important part of the learning process instead of something to be ashamed of. Creating space for this level of vulnerability is especially important when it comes to a rider healing from injury or illness. For those in particular, Garner takes time to openly discuss strengths, limitations, and goals. “Riders who are working through an injury or illness need to give themselves permission to really work through their challenges in a way that they are comfortable with and that also meets the recommendations of their trusted medical professionals when it comes to setting goals,” she states. Acknowledging that the horse world can be one that encourages “powering through” pain, Garner knows this mentality can cause further injury, bad nerves and setbacks for the recovering rider. “It’s important that, just as we would if we were rehabbing a horse, that the rider has a plan that suits their mental and medical needs.” Regardless of where a rider is in the healing process, Garner wants them to remember why we swing a leg over to begin with. “We ride and show to stay connected with our love of the horse,” she says. “We are incredibly lucky to get to work with these animals and be part of such a wonderful community. With gratitude comes happiness. Take your horse for a hand walk, enjoy some time at the show with friends, and find joy in the small victories. There’s nothing wrong with slowing down to just appreciate our horses at the end of the day.”
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“Shame will ruin this industry.” 92 ┃ THE PLAID HORSE ┃ May/June 2020
Into Celebration Peters knows she’s not the only person in the horse world who’s faced struggle—we all have, to varying degrees and visibility. But if we can learn to own our truths, we can start to truly celebrate our comebacks.
But where we go wrong is in our quest for perfection. Perfect in this industry is the ideal thing. Perfect horse, perfect round, perfect outfit. But we don’t have to strive for this unrealistic expectation of perfection.”
After she left Thermal in January feeling too ashamed to ride, Peters was back on the operating table later this winter for a full shoulder replacement. (Acromegaly causes bone and joint disease as well.) Now, with another physical recovery behind her, she’s eyeing a return to the saddle in June—and a shift in the collective horse show vibe after that.
So what should we be working toward? More honesty, for starters. “Having any sort of real depth comes from struggle and from getting knocked down ten times and standing up again, over and over. That’s what needs to be celebrated,” says Peters. “Everyone is going through something, maybe without even knowing it. Shame is rampant everywhere, but it really thrives in the equestrian world. People feel shamed for the way they look, for not having enough money, for not buying certain horses when they do have the money. I’m a people-pleaser, and I’ve felt shamed into giving trainers commissions and going through a ton of horses that weren’t the right fit for me. No matter what your situation, you can’t escape feeling shamed.”
“It’s time for all of us to take personal responsibility for recognizing where we feel shame, and for the shaming we’ve done to others,” she says. “Horse shows are a very competitive environment, which I totally respect. When you walk out of the ring with a blue ribbon, you’re on top of the world.
“Money doesn’t buy happiness. I’ve been blessed with a very good lifestyle and I’ve still struggled. There’s sort of an idea that floats around the horse shows that if you have money and the nicest horses, you’re automatically better than everyone else. And I’ve been in that position... and I still felt ashamed of what my body was doing and the fact that I couldn’t control it,” says Peters. “I couldn’t control other people’s opinions of me. We find happiness letting our story be our truth and accepting that truth despite what anyone thinks. Nothing ever stays the same. Money comes and goes. Horses come and go. Self-love and acceptance can be a constant if we give ourselves the chance to feel worthy of it. And we are all worthy no matter what changes or challenges come our way.”
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Shame, Vulnerability, and Body Positivity: Words to Live By
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Shame is the most powerful master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough. – Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW
Isn’t it sad to think that there was a day you woke up for the last time feeling at peace in your body and the next day you were at war? – The Body Love Society •Perhaps the incessant need to figure out what will fix you isn’t working because you’re not actually broken. ~– Lisa Olivera, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist •Vulnerability is not weakness. And that myth is profoundly dangerous… Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change. – Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW
This life is mine alone. So I have stopped asking people for directions to places they've never been. – From Glennon Doyle’s Untamed wear your vulnerability like a crown; whether it is made of thorns or wildflowers is up to you. – the poetry bandit
Regardless of how you look or how you think you look, you can feel good about yourself because you are not your appearance. – Lindsay Kite, PhD Talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you love. – Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW
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When she returned to Thermal in January after two years of health battles—with plans to show in the Adult Amateur 18-35 division, as opposed to her usual 3'6" A-Os—Peters was plagued with worry over what people might say. Why did she step down? What’s wrong with her? Did she gain weight? Are her horses lame? “It would certainly help to have a little more kindness in the way we speak to and about one another,” says Peters. “But I think it’s more about realizing that everyone has to have a fresh start at some point. Broken bones, cancer, divorces, loss of money, everyone has to re-start at some time in their life. And we shouldn’t be ashamed of having a new normal.” So what can an individual do to help the horse show culture shift from a place where shame flourishes? Peters suggests focusing on vulnerability instead. “Being vulnerable and raw is being true to yourself. In speaking up, I hope people will be more willing to bring up the tough conversations within their barns about facing what makes us feel ashamed and owning our challenges. We all struggle. Being proud of that, owning it, is the hardest part. But I think the minute you do it, it sets you free.” “With all the surgeries and procedures I may have to take breaks at times, but I’ll never give up on what I love,” she says. And when she returns to the show ring, hopefully later this year, “I want to get back in my show clothes on my beautiful horses and to feel powerful and proud,” Peters says. “I want to say: Look at everything I’ve freaking been through and I’m here now.” Because at the end of the day, no matter your level, size, or finances, “Horses are healing,” says Peters. “At a horse show, at our most happy and most accepted place, if you’re feeling the opposite, that’s wrong. We need to change that.” ◼
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The Plaid Horse is proud to support the anti-shame movement in the horse show world—and beyond. In addition to Stephanie Ray Peters’ powerful personal story, we suggest the following reading and resources on fighting shame and harnessing vulnerability.
PHOTO © RANDAL FORD.
ADDITIONAL READING AND RESOURCES
• The Gifts of Imperfection and The Power of Vulnerability, by Brené Brown (above right), research professor, University of Houston • Untamed, the New York Times no. 1 best-seller by Glennon Doyle • Read the blog at theplaidhorse.com for much more on shame and vulnerability • The Plaid Horse’s Adult Amateur Lounge Facebook group is a welcoming place to discuss shame in the horse world and how we’re all working to overcome it: facebook.com/groups/adultammylounge/ • For more personalized help, explore the online counseling options at talkspace.com and openpathcollective.com
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A New Kind of Photography Business
Kristin Pitzer Kind Media LLC
After working for The Book LLC, photographers Vicci Valenti and Annie Patterson took a hiatus. They returned two years later with their own media company, Kind Media LLC.
Sometimes even seasoned professionals must learn that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. Vicci Valenti and Annie Patterson experienced that after leaving their positions at The Book LLC, where they shot photos at horse shows for James Parker, to pursue other employment outside the horse industry. Eventually, though, they realized they missed the horse show world.
Around 2003, Valenti started working as a groom. She cared for one of photographer Anne Gittins’ horses during that time, and after Gittins saw her photos, she offered her a job with her own photography business. During Valenti’s free time, she freelanced as a photographer, often shooting for James Parker’s The Book LLC. Eventually she made the move to working for The Book full time.
In November 2019, the pair partnered up and formed Kind Media LLC, a photography and media company. With some of the oldest and most wellknown events in the books for this year, Valenti and Patterson are looking forward to continuing the relationships they built at The Book and getting to do a job that “doesn’t actually feel like work.”
“When I started with James, he was shooting film,” Valenti said. “I learned a lot from starting with him with film. It definitely taught me how to take photos with a purpose, way more than digital ever would teach someone.”
The Formative Years Valenti, who is from Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, grew up riding in Malvern, Pennsylvania, practically within throwing distance of the Devon Horse Show. Though she had to find rides to the barn and never owned her own horse, Valenti knew she eventually wanted to work in the horse industry. Alongside riding, Valenti developed a passion for photography, which she inherited from her dad, Rocco. She pursued it as a hobby during her time at Delaware Valley University, where she studied equine business.
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In 2008, The Book LLC went digital, but Valenti said the skills she learned while shooting on film helped her develop her eye for photos and made her shooting more productive and efficient. She went on to spend 15 years with The Book as a professional photographer. While Valenti got into photography originally as a hobby, Patterson, of Charleston, South Carolina, had been pointed toward a career in it from the beginning. She grew up riding hunter jumpers and always had a camera in hand at shows. In fact, Patterson originally went to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) to pursue a photography degree, but later changed majors and moved to the University of South Carolina (USC).
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“I was a little bit nervous about doing photography full time since it isn’t your typical ‘nine-to-five,’ and I think I got a little scared,” Patterson said. “I decided to switch my major to graphic design and finish out a degree there [at USC].”
Patterson tried out corporate America for a bit, although it didn’t turn out to be as great as she thought. She pushed herself instead to expand her photography business and jumped into the wedding industry, becoming a second shooter for a couple Charleston-based photographers.
Something kept calling Patterson to a career with horses, though. She continued to ride and shoot photos throughout college, and eventually some friends noticed her pictures were similar to Parker’s shots. They advised her to reach out to The Book’s website to see if they needed help at shows.
Ultimately, though, both Valenti and Patterson realized they missed the horse show world, and the pair teamed up to start a business together. Valenti said collaborating with Patterson was a no-brainer, as Patterson brought video, graphic design and editing to the team. For Patterson, partnering with Valenti meant getting to work with her mentor from The Book.
“I just got lucky somehow and the stars aligned, and they took me on,” Patterson said. She worked at The Book for three years, gaining insight on how to run a business. Most importantly, Patterson said, she learned how to be organized at the big shows, planning and scheduling to make sure every rider was covered. “I feel like I learned, especially at a young age, fresh out of college, the value of customer service, too,” Patterson said. “I think having that relationship with your clients — they’re not just your clients. Some of them are our friends. They’re more than just people we get to take pictures of. So I definitely think customer service, organization and time management were the key things I learned from there.”
A Business is Born Eventually, Valenti and Patterson decided to take a hiatus from the horse show photography world. During that almost two-year period, Valenti bought a 1974 Volkswagen Kombi microbus and installed a photo booth in it. She drove the bus, named “Rio,” to parties and events, renting it out through her Fotovic and Company business, which she still operates today.
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“I really trusted her and appreciated how well she was handling all of our business side of things and all of our contacts,” Patterson said. “She pushes me to stay on deadlines, things like that, that I know aren’t my strong suit. It’s important for people to know that it’s really awesome to go into it as a team rather than try to do it ourselves.” Valenti and Patterson named their new company “Kind Media LLC” because of the many issues, including mental illness, people often face in the world. “The ‘Kind’ part came up to just put that message out there that you don’t know what people are going through, so just be kind,” Valenti said. “We brought it up, and then we decided to see if we could come up with an acronym that worked for our business so we could use it in two fashions.” After a few brainstorming sessions, “Keen, Innovative, New, Digital” filled out the Kind acronym, with “Media” tacked on at the end to acknowledge the other aspects their business offered outside of photography, like video and social media content.
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Since Kind Media’s conception, Valenti and Patterson have landed the official photographer contracts for the Devon Horse Show and the Lake Placid Horse Show. While both horse shows were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, being selected for the jobs was still an honor. “It’s a little full circle,” Valenti said. “I would groom there, and I even braided horses for the Devon Horse Show. And then I worked it for the past 15 years for The Book.”
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“I was in shock,” Patterson added with a laugh.
“I feel like we’re really lucky every day to get to do what we do period. That's what I’m most excited about is getting back out there and getting to do that every single day, wherever it ends up leading us to.” ◼
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Get to know Annie Patterson 1.
You currently own a retired hunter that you care for with your mom, correct? Yes, his name is Gibbs. He’s a Hanoverian Warmblood, and I’ve owned him since he was 8, so about 10 years. We showed in small A shows just in South Carolina.
2. What was the most important thing you learned about photography at SCAD? Most of our classes were based on projects you were given. Those projects pushed you to be creative and to think outside the box, which has helped me today. I can look at a horse and see a picture that no one else sees, or see it differently than others. That’s what I think makes photography and videography so unique—people see the same thing so differently. 3. What’s a perk of having a partner for your business? When you get to work as a team, there’s plenty of time for like, if I’m having an off day, she can pick me up or vice versa. It’s always nice to have somebody to be able to ask hey, what do you think about this, or how should we word this? 4. Do the long days of shooting at horse shows ever get overwhelming? There’s been days we’ve been at the show from 7 am until 11 at night for a Saturday night class, and I mean, not once do I really feel like it’s work. I think that’s really what I’m looking forward to most is just cherishing that time to see how good we have it in doing this. It just doesn’t really get better than being able to go and be around horses and great people. 5. What kind of things do you like to do in Charleston? My parents live on the water. I love boating and fishing, that kind of lifestyle.
Get to Know Vicci Valenti 1. What non-horsey type photography have you done? I’ve always offered some family shoots, and I would do a couple weddings a year for people that I know, so mostly stuff to pass the time. 2. Who else did you groom for? Rachel Kennedy was one of the first people I worked for on the A circuit. The other job that gave me the opportunity to go to Wellington for the first time as a groom was for Margaret Duprey with the Cherry Knoll Hunters and Jumpers at the time. 3. Did you find it difficult to change from film back to digital? No, I found it great because then I could continue shooting every frame with a purpose. Every employee that I got to work with or teach at The Book, we would kind of teach them the way of pretending like you were shooting with film. 4. What’s it like driving a 1974 Volkswagen bus? It really feels good to drive around, just as a second antique car. You drive around and people are honking, waving and giving a peace sign, and it’s very happy for those seconds. 5. What other shows are you excited about for 2020? We are the official photographers at the USET Finals East as well. Obviously, it’s not as long as the others, but it’s special for the kids that go there, so it’s special to us.
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Pritchard Hill A special horse, a world-class wine, and a unique friendship Rennie Dyball PHOTOS Irene Elise Powlick, Alexa Chappellet WORDS
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EVEN WITH A CHAMPIONSHIP AT INDOORS UNDER HIS BELT, PRITCHARD HILL’S BEST IS “DEFINITELY YET TO COME,” SAYS CARLETON.
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Of all the messages Balmoral receives on social media, this one was a first... “Is Pritchard Hill the name of the beautiful jumper? Who named the horse and do you know why he is named Pritchard Hill?”
That was the DM sent to Balmoral’s Instagram in 2019 from a woman named Alexa Chappellet. And the horse in question was Traci and Carleton Brooks’ green conformation hunter. “He is named Pritchard Hill because Traci (who named him) loves wine, and Pritchard Hill is like the Rodeo Drive of Napa for grapes,” Balmoral’s social media manager responded to Alexa—who turned out to be part of the Chappellet Winery family that makes Pritchard Hill wines. “I just saw your profile and I guess you know all about Pritchard Hill. Small world!” A small world… and the beginning of a special and unlikely friendship. Alexa is the daughter of Molly and Donn Chappellet, who moved from Los Angeles to Pritchard Hill in 1967 with their children—and a passion for wine. “My father’s dream was to make a world-class wine from Napa Valley,” says Alexa. Some vines had already been planted, the first harvest came that same year, and Chappellet Winery was born.
our very highest quality wines,” explains Chappellet. “It is no problem to have a horse named Pritchard Hill as our trademark is for wine-related issues. We do love it that the horse Pritchard Hill is also of the highest quality!”
Traci and Carleton came upon the Pritchard Hill area of Napa Valley because wine country “is one of our favorite places to relax and explore,” says Traci. “We ended up at some amazing vineyards on Pritchard Hill and fell in love with everything about it. They say everything from the climate, to the soil, to the “My father trademarked the name Pritchard Hill exposure makes the best grapes and then wines. It back in 1967, and we have used that name ever has all the perfect elements. We decided to save the since we arrived on Pritchard Hill. It is now used for name Pritchard Hill for a really special horse.”
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INSET PHOTO, ABOVE LEFT: CARLETON BROOKS & PRITCHARD HILL. BACKGROUND PHOTOS, ON THESE PAGES & THE FOLLOWING: CHAPPELLET VINEYARD.
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Pritchard Hill’s History
When the Chappellet family arrived on Pritchard Hill in the late ‘60s, “The property was very dry and large boulders were piled everywhere,” says Alexa Chappellet. “It seemed as though we had moved into a rugged, dry, difficult area with no trees around. It was very hot in the summers.” Fortunately, Alexa’s mother Molly had previously been a docent at a Los Angeles museum and “she has a gift for beauty,” says Alexa. “She transformed Pritchard Hill into the beautiful setting it is now. Our property is now verdant and lush and with trees and plants that my mom has cultivated for over 50 years.”
That horse would be a 16-hand, 2012 Warmblood with a sweet expression and a spectacular jump. “He actually loved to jump a little too much in the beginning, so we had to be really patient,” Traci explains. “He almost jumped too high and explosively at first. The goal was to relax his jump without taking away its brilliance.” “Quinn,” as Pritchard Hill is known at the barn, has been piloted mostly by Carleton in recent years, and also by Leslie Steele, John Bragg, and junior rider Juliette Joseph. “I follow Pritchard Hill’s life of competition and I especially love to see when Carleton rides him,” says Chappellet. Carleton and Quinn have racked up numerous championships and wins together everywhere from California’s Desert Circuit to the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg. Since connecting with Balmoral, Chappellet arranged for Traci and Carleton to tour her family’s winery, and she visited Balmoral’s Malibu location to meet the horse whose name she couldn’t help but notice on Instagram. “Traci and I have talked a number of times and swapped stories,” says Chappellet, a horsewoman herself. “Carleton has the true love and spirit of one who cares deeply for people and horses. Pritchard Hill and I had an immediate bond. I love watching Pritchard Hill, but what I love most is that he is such a kind and willing horse, which makes me feel that he loves what he does.”
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She’s exactly right, says Traci: “He’s happy every day and loves to work.” Chappellet’s father was a rider himself, and Alexa grew up riding on Napa’s Pritchard Hill. “I often rode my horses bareback and had only Birkenstocks on my feet,” she says. “Although I did take some lessons and went to riding camp, I never had the interest to compete. My horses, Budweiser and Black Gold, were my friends, and taught me what I know. Budweiser liked to buck, so he taught me a lot!”
ALEXA CHAPPELLET & INDIGO.
CARLETON BROOKS & TRACI BROOKS AT THERMAL.
Today, Chappellet owns a registered Fresian Sport Horse named Indigo. She purchased him from a friend whose family raises, trains, and shows Mexican dancing horses. Indigo now lives at an Andalusian breeder’s barn near Chappellet’s home. “Although Indigo was trained to dance, I ride him on the trails in Paramount Ranch. Sometimes I ask him to dance just for the fun of it,” she says. “Indigo and I are a great team and I cannot imagine my life without him.” As for Traci’s thoughts on Pritchard Hill wines, her description sounds a lot like the horse she named. “It’s elegant and well-balanced,” says Traci. “Exciting, interesting, and thoughtful. With a rich, beautiful history.”
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Balmoral Los Angeles
Embrace your love of learning
Listen to Traci & CB on #Plaidcast Episode 143, Presented by World Equestrian Center on iTunes or theplaidhorse.com/listen Photo © Alden Corrigan Media.
Traci Brooks 310-600-1967
Balmoralfarm.com Southern California
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Carleton Brooks 760-774-1211
watch balmoral tv presented by taylor harris insurance services at balmoraltv.com
Balmoralfarm.com Southern California
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Shining the light on secret shame in the equestrian industry.